The weekend debate: Does the Prime Minister’s pay make a useful yardstick?

Here’s your starter for ten in our weekend slot where we throw up an idea or thought for debate…

The level of the Prime Minister’s pay has become a widely used yardstick for other public sector pay – which suggestions of extra scrutiny for the pay deals of people who are paid more than the PM and counts or complaints about how many people are paid more.

But does the Prime Minister’s pay (or rather salary and pension, for the benefits in kind such as accommodation are rarely factored in) make for a sensible yardstick? And if not, is there an alternative that should be used?

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7 Comments

  • It is not just the benefits in kind that people don’t factor in they also tend to ignore the fact the PM also gets a 65K MP salary, generous expenses and the opportunity to make a mint when their employers sack them.

    But the reason why it is silly to use the PM’s salary as a yardstick is because it is a job that requires no qualifications or experience. The PM’s job is a very special case and therefore not the one by which others should be judged.

  • “The last great government was the 1945 – 1950 government which created the NHS and transformed the lives of millions for the better.”

    As this is a discussion thread I’ll lob in these little hand grenades :-)

    Objectively you could compare the 97-01 Government in terms of its constitutional changes (Scottish/Welsh devolution, Human Rights Act etc). Arguably the 45 Government would have introduced a welfare state & NHS in some form whoever had been elected.

    The 79-87 government was a government of very radical change – it’s a matter of political perspective whether it was a great government (on balance not IMO) but the changes it made were driven through by the Prime Minister so looked at from the point of view of “did she deliver on her political agenda” you have to give Thatcher plaudits for having done so.

    (There praising Blair AND Thatcher in one go – that should ensure I lose the maximum amount of votes!)

  • David Le Grice 26th Mar '11 - 8:35pm

    If it is to be used as a yardstick then It should apply to private sector public service providers (Serco et al.) who can already out compete the public sector for the best talent with high salaries.

  • To use PM’s pay as a yardstick displays amazing ignorance. The PM is a politician who, together with colleagues prescibes policy usually via parliament. Civil servants and chief execs of Councils implement those policies by managing staff and resources. They are managers. Managers are trained professionals – there are University qualifications for managers. The comparison is like that between apples and oranges.
    I was disappointed to see the comparison in the last Lib Dem manifesto but that document is now irrelevant anyway!

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